Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja is not yet out of the woods over clearance of his governorship candidature even after the Commission for University Education (CUE) withdrew its letter revoking recognition of his degree certificate.
A voter yesterday filed a fresh petition at the High Court in Milimani seeking to bar the electoral commission from printing ballot papers for Nairobi gubernatorial race until the suit is concluded.
Mr Dennis Wahome, in a case he also wants certified urgent and heard expeditiously, maintains that the senator is not eligible. He alleges that the degree certificate acquired from Team University, Kampala, is bogus. “Mr Sakaja’s assertion that he is a graduate of Team University is factually incorrect, baseless and unsupported. The assertion is further contradicted by his own public declarations categorically stating that he has never attended any university outside Kenya.”
Through lawyer Njoki Mboce, the voter has premised his case on declarations made by Mr Sakaja in the Nomination Application Declaration Form submitted to Jubilee Party on March 9, 2017, when he indicated that he held a degree from the University of Nairobi (UoN). In another self-declaration form submitted to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission in 2017, the politician also indicated that he had a degree from the UoN.
“In both forms, there was no mention by Mr Sakaja of any other degree from any other university, including Team University. Therefore, any indication, including by the elections returning officer that Mr Sakaja was cleared on the basis of a university degree obtained from Team University, Kampala, Uganda, is highly contradictory,” says Mr Wahome.
He escalated the dispute to court after the electoral agency’s dispute resolution committee dismissed his complaint against Nairobi polls returning officer’s decision to clear Mr Sakaja’s bid.
“If this petition is not certified urgent and determined forthwith, there is a danger that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will proceed to include Mr Sakaja’s name on the ballot papers for the Nairobi governor election prior to the determination of the issues raised,” lawyer Mboce says.
“Sakaja’s inclusion [on the ballot papers] would be gravely prejudicial to the petitioner and the residents of Nairobi County as Mr Sakaja is a legally and constitutionally unqualified person.”
She stated that the IEBC has a statutory obligation to authenticate documents presented by aspirants and that the decision of its dispute resolution committee to dismiss her client’s complaint was flawed. The complaint was dismissed on June 19. “Mr Sakaja does not possess a university degree as required by Section 22(2) of the Elections Act, hence is a legally and constitutionally unqualified person,” says Ms Mboce.
She added that Mr Wahome is aggrieved by the committee’s finding that the returning officer was not obliged to ascertain the authenticity of Mr Sakaja’s degree. In her view, the decision enabled the IEBC and the officer to conduct the nomination of Mr Sakaja in a manner that fell below the threshold for the conduct of elections set out in Article 81(e)(v) of the Constitution.
The voter, in his supporting affidavit, argued that no degree was produced by either the returning officer or Mr Sakaja and even if one was produced, some steps needed to be taken to verify its authenticity. “By taking no steps to verify the authenticity of the degree certificate purportedly issued to Mr Sakaja by Team University on October 21, 2016, the IEBC and the returning officer were complicit in a fraud perpetrated by Mr Sakaja, contrary to the IEBC’s obligations as established by Article 88(4) of the Constitution,” reads the affidavit.
He said the dispute resolution committee conducted itself as if it were an adversarial tribunal by striking out additional affidavits he had filed and in which he had intended to produce video clips of Mr Sakaja’s contradictory declarations in public forums of his education background. He added that the committee shifted to him the burden of proving that Mr Sakaja’s degree was bogus.